Fetch the front door key

Plate 2 for the February 1874 installment of the Cornhill Magazine serialization of Hardy's novel.

Although the relative positions of Gabriel and Bathsheba have been reversed in the February instalment, once again Bathsheba is depicted above him and in the act of rescuing him, this time from unemployment. Like Cinderella, she has been miraculously transformed from a girl with "hardly a penny in the world" (p. 22) a mere two months before, when she moved to Weatherbury, into an heiress on a pony, so elevated that Gabriel in his shepherd's linen smockfrock dare not raise his eyes to her. By the time he reaches her farm after his disappointment at the Casterbridge hiring fair, darkness has fallen on the landscape, as the second plate suggests by the shadowy vegetation and close lines in the sky. However, the Helen Allingham depicts neither stars nor lingering smoke from the recently extinguished rick-fire. In concentrating on their reversed social positions, Paterson has neglected such details as the holes burnt into Gabriel's linen smock and "grimy" (p. 136) visage, but has included his hat, although the latter article Hardy describes him raising out of respect rather than taking off. Paterson has captured the moment immediately after Bathsheba has drawn back her thick Shetland woollen veil, but before Gabriel regards her face. Although not "charred" as in the letter-press, his shepherd's crook seems "six inches shorter" than it should be. The overall effect of the plate is tranquil, and communicates none of the "abashed" surprise that characterizes this reunion in the letter-press.

On horseback, Bathsheba is his social superior -- but the height afforded her by the pony is not so great as to place her beyond Gabriel's reach. In contrast to the left, Bathsheba's messenger to the unknown saviour, Maryann Money, converses with a male farm-labourer face to face and on equal footing. Out of the plate Bathsheba stares, suggesting detachment rather than, as in the text, concern at the awkwardness of the situation or amusement "at the singularity of the meeting" (p. 136). That Bathsheba is, in contradiction to the celebrated 1967 film adaptation starring Julie Christie, dark-haired rather than blonde or brunette Hardy establishes early in the text, and Paterson in the early plates and vignettes. Hardy is specific about her "black hair" (p. 4), but not about the hair colour of her companion, Liddy Smallbury, in the second instalment. Paterson's March plate and February vignette help the viewer to distinguish maid from mistress by depicting Liddy as lighter-haired. Paterson strengthes the narrative continuity of this sequence of illustrations by giving Liddy the same profile in the second vignette and the third plate. The same consistency of approach as to facial features is evident in the principals, although Bathsheba and Gabriel seem to age over course of the narrative- pictorial program and Troy remains the same. The exception is Paterson's Farmer Boldwood, who is literally a different man in each plate in which he appears (he is in none of the vignettes).

By mid-August, 1874, Paterson must have completed the illustrations for all but the last two instalments of the novel, suggesting that The Cornhill turned out its proofs very early indeed, for illustrators would not have been entrusted with the author's manuscript. Hardy signed with the magazine in the first week of December, and must have seen proofs by the middle of the month, because he did not expect to see the first instalment in print until the February number. In that number, the Helen Allingham chooses as the subject for her initial letter a subject that does not actually occur until the third instalment (Ch. 9, mid-p. 258, Bathsheba and Liddy clearing away James Everdene's papers upstairs). Possibly the proofs for February which Paterson received contained Ch. 9, which was subsequently moved to the third (i. e., the March) instalment, which is only 22.6 pages long plus plate as we have it, whereas the second instalment is somewhat longer (23.5 pages plus plate), suggesting that editor Stephen felt he needed to cut from no. 2 in order to lengthen no. 3.

As mistress, Bathsheba is shown by Paterson as standing rather than sitting on the floor with Liddy, as in Hardy's text. Because she in her workaday clothes "dusting bottles" (p. 260) as he companion sorts through Farmer Everdene's papers, Bathsheba refuses to step down to converse with the unseen caller, Farmer Boldwood, who is searching for Fanny Robin. Thus, the February vignette was intended to mark Boldwood's entrance into the plot, for after his departure Liddy describes his situation; he does not appear in the pictorial narrative until the April plate.


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Last modified 12 December 2001